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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Sitter faces murder charge
By REBECCA CATALANELLO AND ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published June 15, 2007
TAMPA - A teacher's aide faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of a 16-month-old girl.
Investigators say Aurelio Gonzalez, 29, was babysitting toddler Mia Alvarez on May 28 when he violently shook her and struck her with a closed fist because she wouldn't stop crying.
Mia, the daughter of Naomi and Anthony Alvarez, died at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital a day after the incident.
Charges against Gonzalez were upgraded to murder Wednesday by a grand jury. Gonzalez was first arrested on aggravated child abuse charges the day Mia fell unresponsive. He remained at the Orient Road Jail on Thursday, where he is being held without bail.
"I want him to be punished, " said Naomi Alvarez, 22. "I don't want him to get off easy."
Alvarez was working her cashier's job at Winn-Dixie the day Mia was shaken. She had left Mia and her 2-year-old son in the care of Gonzalez, her roommate for two months while she was separated from her husband.
Gonzalez, who had worked at Liberty Middle School since November, told Alvarez he waited two hours after shaking Mia before calling her or 911.
Until then, Gonzalez never showed any signs he was capable of violence against her children, Alvarez has said.
Gonzalez is still an employee of the Hillsborough County school system, but the School Board is expected to vote on his termination in the coming weeks, a spokesman said.
Alvarez said word of the additional charges brings a measure of relief, though it is tempered by grief. She and her son are attending counseling once a week. The family received support in paying for the toddler's funeral, thanks to the help of a relative's employer.
As she headed to work Thursday for her first day back since Mia's death, she said she hoped it would bring some regularity to a life turned upside down.
"I'm hoping maybe if life starts to feel normal, it'll be normal for my son, " she said.